Marked by fast breaks and physical defense, Sunday’s match felt like a shootout.
The final line just didn’t reflect that.
The Michigan women’s soccer team (6-4-3 overall, 1-2-2 Big Ten) tied Iowa (3-5-5, 0-2-3) 1-1 on Sunday afternoon in a gritty, back-and-forth match. The Hawkeyes took advantage of a defensive lapse early to capture a one goal lead, but a late penalty brought the Wolverines back in dramatic fashion.
As in weeks past, controlling the ball was the clear focus for Michigan. The Wolverines played most of the first half on their own side of the pitch, maintaining possession for long stretches, but struggling to advance into the Hawkeye defense. Two early shots by junior forward Sammi Woods went wide, and Iowa goalkeeper Monica Wilhelm made an impressive save on the lone attempt on goal.
“It was a game that we knew was going to be a battle,” Michigan coach Jennifer Klein said. “In the first half we struggled a bit to adjust to the game. At halftime we talked about those points and made really good adjustments, and because of our ability to adapt and adjust we were able to generate some really good chances. Very fortunate and happy about our team’s response today.”
Those adjustments paid off in a big way.
Fourteen shots in the second half — nine of them on goal — gave the Wolverines hope in spite of the deficit in the second half. Woods, along with graduate student forward Meredith Haakenson, outplayed an aggressive Hawkeye back line that overpowered Michigan for the entire first half.
In spite of that, the shutout continued late into the game, largely because of goalkeeper play. Wilhelm fended off the Wolverine onslaught, notching seven saves to keep them scoreless into the final minutes.
“A lot of credit to their goalkeeper,” Klein said. “In all of our games, the opponents goalkeepers have been playing really really well and made really good saves.”
That effort, however, wasn’t quite enough to win. Wilhelm earned a controversial red card in the 82nd minute after she attempted to contest a long pass to Woods.
She was replaced by freshman Aubrey Hahn, who was tasked with maintaining the Hawkeye lead for just 8 minutes. Instead, she almost immediately let in a Haakenson penalty kick, after another controversial call in the Iowa box. The final minutes quickly ran out, ending the game in a draw.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to our whole team,” Klein said. “Because in a game like that it really takes the whole team, with everybody fighting together, to give us the best chance. … Overall I think that as a whole team, I was really proud of their fight, their perseverance to go play the whole 90 minutes.”
Michigan played high-level soccer in all areas of the field. The defense fought back against the chippy Hawkeye attack. Graduate student goalkeeper Izzy Nino notched five saves. Turnovers were sparse, passing was clean, and the back line held an opponent to one-or-less goals for the 12th time this season.
But in a competitive, high-octane match, it just wasn’t enough to earn a win.